No. 4 Sewickley Academy girls edge No. 2 Vincentian Academy in section opener

Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 11:21 PM

Vincentian Academy’s hopes were destroyed as quickly as they were revived in a chaotic ending to a sloppy girls basketball game Thursday night.

The Royals, on the heels of an 8-0 run in a 30-second span with two minutes remaining, had evened the score at 34-34.

There were just a few backbreaking moments that prevented No. 2 Vincentian Academy’s improbable comeback, which allowed No. 4 Sewickley Academy to claim a 43-39 victory in the Section 1-A opener.

The Royals’ two most experienced players — Hanna Katz and Alana Winkler — fouled out in the next minute, causing the team to lose its top inside scorers and rebounders.

Sewickley Academy’s leading scorer, Kamryn Lightcap, also made her next two shots, one from inside the key and another behind the foul line, to pull away. Lightcap scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half and had four steals.

“This is a really great win for us,” Lightcap said. “I think it puts us at a pretty great place, and hopefully we can just build from this.”

Each team has to regroup and improve, their coaches said.

Field goal shooting in the first half was 20 percent for 18 combined points.

Vincentian Academy coach Ron Moncrief did not have a problem with his team’s shot selection and said open-look attempts inexplicably wouldn’t fall in. The Royals have scored 19 combined points in the first halves of their last two games.

“We just can’t seem to score (early) and can’t really pinpoint the reason why,” Moncrief said. “We have the talent to score, and coming into the year we knew we were young and inexperienced. We knew we’d have growing pains early on, but we’ll break the ice by grinding and continuing to work hard in practices and games.”

Sewickley Academy changed its approach at halftime to draw more fouls and scoring opportunities.

“We were settling for jump shots, and they have bigger girls at Vincentian, so if you’re driving your going to get your shots blocked on just straight up lay-ups,” Sewickley Academy coach Mariam Sy said. “Instead, we tried pump faking, so they (would) jump and try to draw fouls like that.”

Sewickley Academy’s defensive game plan was to keep the ball out of Katz’s hands, which worked until she scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half.

“I thought she took over in the second half, but had a slow start due to foul trouble,” Moncrief said. “She really took it to the defense, played her game with handling the ball and posting up for good scoring opportunities.”

Moncrief was happy with his team’s resilience, a building block for the team’s season.

“They showed a lot of heart,” Moncrief said. “They had a lot of determination to get back in the game. I felt if we had a couple better possessions there and a couple more rebounds we could have had a different outcome.”

Foul trouble and Lightcap’s timely shooting just got in the way.

“It was really intense, and it wasn’t pretty in some ways,” Sy said. “But, you know, the game is over, and we wanted to get out of here with a win.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.

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